Planning a trip to Wellington? Then this new site from Totally Wellington (the city’s tourism and marketing agency) is for you. The people who brought you the "Send Yourself to Wellington" campaign now aim to provide potential visitors with online information about accommodation, attractions and events in the capital city. If a site is to be judged on a design that meets its objectives, then this site gets top marks. But this is more than just brochure-ware. It also allows users to book accommodation, tours and activities in Wellington — and book a New Zealand travel itinerary. Overall, the design of the site (done by Comtex) is excellent. It starts with an uncluttered entry page, with simple, clear navigation options. The entry page contrasts with the "what to see and do" page. You feel like you’ve suddenly hit Wellington — it’s busy! But despite a lot happening on it, it’s easy to navigate your way around. You can check out the nightlife, arts and culture, shopping and, for the organisationally challenged, even look at a suggested itinerary. A bouquet to the site for keeping it simple. This site doesn’t force you to load plug-ins. It’s not an all-singing and all-dancing site, and because of that it’s user-friendly. You may or may not have to be patient with the graphics, however — depending on your connection. I found with my connection running at 21.6Kbit/s (does anyone ever reach 56Kbit/s on their 56k modem?) the front page took about 40 to 50 seconds to download fully. The only brickbats I would have for this site are very minor. For example, it would be good if some of the photographs contained links to the attractions they represent. When I saw a picture of Te Papa I expected to be able to click on it and be taken to the information about the museum. The second (miniature) brickbat is that once you submit an enquiry about accommodation, you’re greeted with the message that they’ll endeavour to get back to you within two working days. Still, unless there are staff sitting at their terminals waiting for this sort of enquiry — or some sort of automated system — then chances are these are the delays you’ll be presented with. And, if you are in a hurry, you can search the accommodation database by price and accommodation type and find the contact details you need immediately. The site is still in phase one and it outlines plans for phase two. Another bouquet for outlining these in one paragraph (on the "about the site" page) and not setting up one of those pointless "under construction" pages. The plans for phase two include a dedicated education section for schools and international students, virtual tours, the facility to create your own itinerary, direct addition to its customer databases and real time transaction facilities. Wellington
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